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Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman Paperback – July 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bookchin and Foreman are the primary avatars of the two major schools of thought in the radical wing of the environmental movement, "social ecology" and "deep ecology," respectively. The former includes human needs in its larger visionp. 21 ; the latter argues for the intrinsic value of nature, claiming that "social" ecology defends "the creation of an instrumentalized world and its exploitation." As quickly becomes clear from the book, which is primarily the transcript of a public discussion between Bookchin and Foreman organized in November 1989 by New York City's Learning Alliance, this summation does injustice to the complexities of the arguments (particularly Bookchin's). Bookchin emerges as the more articulate debater, holding forth convincingly for a libertarian politics that would lead to a movement "neither anthropocentric nor misanthropic," in opposition to "deep" ecology positions that are "potentially . . . anti-social and anti-human." Regrettably, this volume has a bit too much "committed preaching to the converted" to be useful as a handbook for the newcomer to this debate, but for those already involved in the radical ecology movement it should fuel some arguments. Chase is a member of the South End Press collective.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This monograph is the outcome of a 1989 cooperative forum sponsored by the Learning Alliance of New York City between environmental activists Foreman and Bookchin. Foreman is founder of Earth First! and author of Confessions of an Eco-Warrior ( LJ 3/1/91); Bookchin is founder of the Institute for Social Ecology and author of The Ecology of Freedom ( LJ 8/82). Among the issues they discussed were racism in the ecology movement and the influence of institutional forces on the environment. Although both men had been criticized for damaging the radical ecology movement by their unproductive and divisive infighting, the environmental community considered this forum a success because here they both stated their respect for diversity and agreed that there are opportunities for building alliances within the radical ecology movement. Recommended only for large ecology and environmental ethics collections.
- Eva Lautemann, DeKalb Coll. Lib., Clarkston, Ga.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896083829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896083820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,551,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on June 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Defending the Earth", published by Black Rose Books, contains the full transcripts of an important debate between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman. The debate took place in 1989. The book also contains follow up essays by Bookchin and Foreman written a year later.

During the 1980's, the American environmentalist movement was rocked by a conflict between "social" ecologists and "deep" ecologists. Bookchin, a social ecologist and left-wing activist of long standing, sharply criticized the deep ecologists for misanthropy, racism and pro-establishment positions. Foreman, a leading activist within Earth First, was seen by many as the most prominent representative of the deep ecologist side. The debate between the two men found in this book is therefore of considerable interest.

The debate speaks for itself, since both debaters are very lucid and to the point, but I will nevertheless attempt a summary. Bookchin believes (or believed - he is now deceased) in a kind of synthesis between traditional left-wing ideas and environmental activism. This is the famed "social ecology". In some ways, Bookchin's politics resemble anarchism, but it's an anarchism muted by participation in local elections and the creation of Green political parties. Bookchin believed that the traditional New England town meetings could somehow be used and expanded upon to create a left-libertarian confederation outside the control of the federal government. He somehow wanted to relate left-wing anarchism to the "Jeffersonian" tradition.

Bookchin criticized the deep ecologists for insufficient interest in social issues, and for taking positions which at their worst were misanthropic, racist and imperialist.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andreas Petofi on October 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, because it represents two very different views about the environmental movement. I'm a member of an environmental group myself, HEARTWOOD, which is located in Midwest America. Needless to say, I support the late Murray Bookchin's views that environmental issues cannot be viewed in isolation to other issues. I personally brought this up in a recent Heartwood meeting, that environmental activism has too often been portrayed as the issue of the upper middle class Caucasians, while they ignore issues of war, economic justice and the exploitative nature of capitalism. We need to enlarge our views as the late, great Judi Bari would advocate.

I would say that EARTH FIRST is doing better without Dave Foreman, whose almost racist and xenophobic views bring more harm to the environmental movement than help. We need an inclusive base to the environmental movement, and not an exclusive base as Foreman would advocate.
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